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Maca Root Side Effects

Chandramita Bora
Maca is a root-like vegetable that is found in the Andes mountains of Peru. Nowadays, it is increasingly used in the preparation of herbal supplements that are meant to increase stamina and vigor. This story mainly dwells on its side effects, and also some benefits.
Power and Peril of Maca

The august legend of the Incan Empire stirs that Inca warriors dosed themselves with maca before fighting a battle to channel their hubristic aggression to achieve victory. However, the warriors were restricted from consuming maca, post war.
Women, who were conquered during the battle, were to be protected from the warrior's adroit virility. Thus, Peruvian maca had proven its power over a hundred years ago, as an agent in accelerating libido, fertility, and vitality.
Maca or Lepidium meyenii is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant, that is mainly found in the Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia, at the height of about 15,000 feet. It is one of the few plants that can withstand the harsh climate of these mountainous regions.
It is basically grown for the fleshy root-like vegetable, that closely resembles a radish in shape. Maca root is used as a food and medicinal herb. With the discovery of some of its unique health benefits, its root has become an important ingredient in several herbal supplements.
However, several side effects have also been reported in recent times, with widespread use of its supplement.

Maca Dangers

The recommended dosage of this herb is 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams (mg) daily, to attain the beneficial effects, and in a concentrated form the dosage is about 1,500 to 2,250 mg/day. Anything above this dose can overwhelm the body and the endocrine system, which can result in several side effects.
A few side effects are:

◊ Insomnia
◊ Heartburn
◊ Hot flashes
◊ Headaches
◊ Mood swings
◊ Increased heart rate
◊ Allergic reactions (skin rash, hives, flushed skin)
◊ Gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, diarrhea)
This herb is known to increase the testosterone levels in the body of both men and women. This might be beneficial for men; however, excess testosterone might create extreme hormonal imbalance in women.
This may result in problems like development of facial hair, breast and uterine cancers, insulin resistance, deepening of the voice, and male pattern baldness.

This root can interfere with certain medications, especially those used for thyroid problems, and hence, it is not recommended for thyroid patients.
It contains a compound known as glucosinolate, which can cause goiter if present in excess amounts, and also when the dietary intake of iodine is not sufficient. This can be termed as one of its most dangerous side effects.
It is also not recommended during pregnancy, and therefore, expecting women should stay away from this herb and its supplements.

Maca Gains

This herb is mainly popular for its energy-boosting and aphrodisiac qualities. It can improve strength and stamina, and also sexual functioning. It has been found to be effective for increasing libido, and treating infertility in men.

In women, its root can help stabilize the level of hormones to alleviate uncomfortable menstrual symptoms, and symptoms of perimenopause or menopause. However, the root does not contain any plant hormone or phytoestrogens. Instead, it stimulates the body to produce its own hormones, by providing some vital nutrients.

Maca also behaves as an antioxidant and anticarcinogenic agent, which cuts down the risk of cancer tissues and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

It is also known to increase muscle mass, and therefore, many athletes prefer to take this supplement, since it acts as an alternative to synthetic steroids, which are harmful for the body.
A few other gains of this herb:

◊ Leads to healthy bones and teeth
◊ Reduces stress levels
◊ Alleviates chronic fatigue
◊ Supplies instant body energy
◊ Aids in quick wound healing
◊ Helps the skin with anti-aging properties
◊ Improves academic and mental abilities

Maca Components

The main constituents of Peruvian maca root are - carbohydrates, and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, silica, selenium, iodine, and potassium. This herb also has a few crucial amino acids and plant sterols.
Besides, it contains several essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid, and also dietary fiber. 

All these vital nutrients can boost the endocrine system to produce sufficient hormones, in order to regulate metabolism, growth, fertility, and increase the level of energy and stamina in an individual.
Additionally, maca can help strengthen the immune system, aid in weight loss, and deal with anxiety and depression.

An evaluation of the benefits and side effects of maca root is very essential, before opting for this herbal supplement.
It is very important to keep in mind that, any medication and supplement can produce some adverse reactions, if taken excessively. Therefore, to be on the safe side, one should take herbal and other supplements, including maca root powder or its supplements, only after consulting a physician or health care provider.
This would help to derive the health benefits of this herb, without experiencing any of its side effects.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.